MARCO ISLAND — For Joe Oliverio, being arrested on April 21 was one of the most disturbing nights of his life. Now, he’s fighting to clear his name and demanding that the Marco Island police sergeant he claims is responsible for his arrest be fired.
Oliverio, 51, says he was pulled over by police in the 200 block of Collier Boulevard shortly after 10:40 p.m., ordered out of the car he was driving at gunpoint, handcuffed and arrested for felony grand theft auto. But Oliverio, who owns Joey’s Pizza, claims the incident is a personal vendetta carried out by Marco Island Police Sergeant Tige Thompson.
According to a police report, Marco Island Police received an anonymous tip that a Bentley reported stolen from the Chicago-area was spotted in the parking lot of Oliverio’s pizzeria. After hours of surveillance, Sgt. Thompson advised units that a man was driving the car out of the lot at approximately 10:40 p.m., and officers conducted a felony traffic stop. The police report further states that Oliverio told Sgt. Thompson and other officers on scene that the car was not stolen, but that he was holding the Bentley as collateral until a civil matter he had with the owner, Gregory Perkins, which dates back to 2009, was resolved.
Although Oliverio claims that he requested officers contact Marco Police Detective Glenn Zirgibel, who had investigated the stolen car claim and determined that Perkins filed a false report, no further investigation by officers was taken and Oliverio was arrested.
Oliverio was released early the next morning on $2,500 cash bond. However, he believes the entire incident is the result of an on-going dispute between himself and Sgt. Thompson.
“He said he was going to get me and he did,” stated Oliverio after describing his experience to City Council members at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday. Oliverio wants a thorough investigation of the incident.
“Sgt. Thompson abused his authority,” he told council members.
“This is not the kind of person we want representing Marco Island,” added Oliverio’s wife, Doreen, who was driving a separate car, and also pulled over by police at the same time as her husband. She claims that traffic stop was unwarranted. When asked the reason for the stop, she claims an officer told her police didn’t want her to be near her husband.
Doreen Oliverio told councilors that her husband’s arrest was made solely to destroy his good name.
Speaking on Oliverio’s behalf, resident Vip Grover called Oliverio “a good servant of this community.”
“This is really about our community,” he said. “That could have happened to any one of us.
“At best, Sgt. Thompson was out of line. At worst, it was a major violation of the oath he took.”
Marco Island Police Chief Thom Carr said he was unable to comment, pending the outcome of an investigation. Attempts to reach Sgt. Thompson and by phone and email were unsuccessful as of Tuesday at noon.
Oliverio demanded that the city complete a thorough investigation and that the record of his arrest be expunged.
“I have a felony arrest on my record that I have to fight to have cleared.”
Oliverio, who has met personally with Chief Carr and City Manager Jim Riviere, has retained an attorney in an effort to have the charges against him dropped. He says he’ll consider additional legal action if he’s unsatisfied with the city’s efforts in the matter. Oliverio is scheduled to be in court for arraignment on May 16.